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Victorian Centre for Data Insights Strategy

This strategy sets out a plan for how VCDI will help VPS agencies derive value and insights from data. It outlines 3 clear business goals and the responses required to reach them.

How VCDI helps transform the VPS

The Victorian Centre for Data Insights (VCDI) is the state’s centre of excellence for data and analytics. It drives a critical agenda for the Victorian Government.

We work with departments and agencies across the public sector (VPS agencies) to address data and analytics challenges.

Through our partnerships and projects, we help deliver key government commitments, improve the bottom line, and build data expertise.

This strategy sets out a plan for how VCDI will help VPS agencies derive value and insights from data. It outlines three clear business goals and the responses required to reach them.

The plan will evolve as we learn what works and as new challenges emerge, but our purpose and goals will remain constant.

Goals

  1. Use data for better policies, programs and services
  2. Reduce waste and deliver savings
  3. Build data expertise and transform how the VPS works


Date:
January 2020

Introduction

We review lessons learned from VCDI's first 2 years and explain how data is integral to government's biggest challenges and how the VPS can engage with VCDI.

Lessons from VCDI’s first two years

Two years of working with VPS agencies has taught us a lot about how a centre of excellence can maximise impact. Our experience so far has shown:

  • There is strong demand for a centralised entity like VCDI to support VPS agencies to accelerate and scale change.
  • VCDI is most effective when partnering with VPS agencies, rather than issuing high-level policy statements.
  • Agencies require the right work practices and people to embed analytics models into operations.
  • VPS agencies need ongoing support to guide their investments in data.
  • The VPS needs more practical help with data sharing and access.

In response, VCDI has assembled a diverse team to help VPS agencies be more data-driven. Our strategists, change leads and privacy advisors are as critical to the mix as our machine learning and algorithm experts.

Responses in this strategy are also informed by contemporary research into how the public sector can derive value and insights from data. We will continue to hone our approach.

This graphic shows 8 circles with many lines connecting them all to each other. In order of size, the circles are labelled: Data analysts, Policy and project officers, Technologists and engineers, Business transformation, Data scientists, Data strategists and Data engineers

VCDI provides services and expertise to VPS agencies to help them generate value from data. To engage with VCDI or to find out more, contact data.insights@dpc.vic.gov.au or look up our people on the Victorian Government internal directory.

Our data science and analytics experts partner with agencies to:

  • Diagnose high-impact business problems
  • Identify priority areas for action to optimise resources, improve workflow or better understand customers
  • Design, develop, test and deploy analytics solutions
  • Evaluate benefits and refine responses

Our strategy and business transformation specialists:

  • Help develop strategic approaches to data that respond to business needs
  • Advise on the implementation of technology solutions and data governance
  • Facilitate workforce planning, executive data literacy, and access to networks and partnerships
  • Coach data functions in contemporary work practices

Our data sharing area is developing a service to meet diverse user and consumer needs, which will:

  • Bring together VPS and non-VPS data for sharing, analysis and insights
  • Provide tiered data access enabling user groups to work with data according to their level of expertise and security
  • Produce a suite of standard data products and insights for better policy and service design
This diagram shows a triangle sliced horizontally into 3 pieces. At the top is Data analytics services - tackling big challenges; in the middle is Immersive strategic services - improving the data capabilities of VPS agencies and at the bottom is Data sharing services - addressing whole of Victorian government and cross-portfolio challenges

Data (and its analytics) is the most significant renewable resource discovered this century.

Victoria has the highest population growth rate in Australia. Melbourne alone is expanding by 100,000 people per year, and the state is tipped to surpass 11 million residents in 2056.(Source: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria in Future 2019: Population Projections 2016 to 2056.)

Analytics can help to forecast infrastructure and service needs, enabling more efficient and responsive government.

As Victoria undergoes a transport infrastructure boom, data-driven approaches are vital to making the right investments, minimising disruptions, and optimising use of expensive assets.

Data and analytics can help us plan renewable energy infrastructure for best returns, understand the impacts of hotter temperatures and lower rainfall on agriculture and the economy, and better predict and respond to more severe weather-related emergencies. (Source:Department of Environment, Land, Water and
Planning, Victoria’s Climate Change Framework.)

Technology and globalisation are profoundly shifting the economy, with some industries in decline and others growing. (Source: Deloitte, 2019, The path to prosperity: why the future of work is human.)

Modelling and forecasting are essential to help understand changes so our workforce can adapt to opportunities that arise.

As the Royal Commission into Family Violence identified, data capability and sharing gaps hamper our ability to support the state’s most vulnerable residents. (Source: Royal Commission into Family Violence, 2016, Summary and Recommendations.)

To help identify risks and improve collaboration between public services, the VPS must embrace modern approaches to information sharing and use.

Delivering affordable services at the standard citizens expect will require a workforce with heightened data expertise. This hinges on careful planning and coordination within VPS agencies, and at whole-of-government level.

In a fiscally constrained environment, data is essential to contain costs. The VPS is taking steps to optimise procurement, manage assets, and improve efficiency using analytics, and such approaches must be more widely adopted. The knock-on costs of poor data use are many and varied, ranging from the lifetime cost of a violent offender through to the economic impact of traffic congestion. (Source: Charlotte van Ooijen, Barbara Ubaldi, Benjamin Welby, 2019, A data-driven public sector: Enabling the strategic use of data for productive, inclusive and trustworthy governance, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance No. 33.) 

Citizens expect government service delivery to match the responsiveness and ease of the private sector. Yet state governments are ranked well behind other sectors at using technology to deliver services. (Source: Productivity Commission, 2019, Growing the digital economy in Australia and New Zealand: Maximising opportunities for SMEs.)

Improved capabilities are essential to meet evolving public expectations.

VCDI’s strategy is structured around three goals that respond to clear public sector problems

Major policy, infrastructure and service reform opportunities are being missed due to an inability to obtain data insights. The VPS needs to derive richer insights to inform evidence-based decisions.

Responses

  • Use analytics to accelerate priority policies and projects
  • Maximise insights within VPS agencies through strategic approaches to data
  • Improve VPS data sharing for cross portfolio policy design and joined-up service delivery

Responses

  • Target data-driven savings and efficiencies
  • Govern our data to maximise value and remove waste
  • Reduce the cost and delay of implementing technology solutions

Government risks falling behind other sectors in delivering services that meet citizen expectations. Modern organisational success depends on the ability to use data effectively. The VPS needs to develop its workforce and practices to deliver data-driven government.

Responses

  • Build executive data awareness and literacy
  • Develop the right workforce for a data-driven VPS
  • Embed more creative ways of organising to solve problems

Goal 1: Use data for better policies, programs and services

This section examines the problem statement: Major policy, infrastructure and service reform opportunities are being missed due to an inability to obtain data insights with 3 responses and suggested actions.

Problem: Major policy, infrastructure and service reform opportunities are being missed due to an inability to obtain data insights

Data provides evidence for policy advice, programs and service design. Richer insights result in better decisions. Conversely, making critical choices without the best information at hand can have wide-ranging negative consequences.

There are many factors that hold government back. VPS teams may not have the work practices or capabilities required to do complex analytics. Poor quality data may hinder decision makers. A policy question may require inputs from an agency unwilling to share.

Such factors require a range of responses. This strategy proposes a tiered approach — delivering incremental value via priority projects, while addressing systemic issues to help the VPS generate data insights at scale.

Analytics techniques can be applied in many ways, such as forecasting the impact of potential policies, developing nuanced and differentiated approaches to complex problems, or measuring performance and outcomes.

VCDI’s ‘lighthouse’ analytics projects deliver immediate results and signal to others what can be achieved. High-value partnerships with VPS agencies on priority projects provide inspiration and guidance for others to follow, with models and code made available for re-use where similar challenges exist.

Actions

A Identify and scope major analytics opportunities across the VPS.

B Deliver and promote high-impact analytics outcomes for the Victorian Government.

C Develop a whole-of-government algorithm and code-sharing library for VPS analytics teams to borrow from and contribute to.

VPS agencies are adopting strategies to improve their data capabilities.

The first step is identifying unmet business needs or challenges where data capability or management issues are blockers. VCDI’s data strategists can help pinpoint key data asset, governance, tech and workforce changes to overcome impediments and deliver ‘quick wins’ to show value. Our immersive support helps teams embed modern work practices and other changes to achieve lasting agency transformation.

Actions

A Assist VPS agencies to develop and implement data strategies.

B Deliver immersive support to key teams within VPS agencies to improve capabilities.

C Provide templates and other artefacts for strategy development and new ways of working.

Data sharing across government is crucial to tackling the complex, cross-portfolio challenges of government. A big step in this direction is the VCDI-led development of the Victorian Data Sharing Act 2017, which is used to bring together cross-VPS data for analysis.

The transformative potential of better using data to disrupt and change the way government works is substantial. Work underway with the Victorian Social Investment Integrated Data Resource (VSIIDR), a proof-of-concept using cross-portfolio linked data, demonstrates this — identifying and understanding clients common across the health, human services, education and justice portfolios to redesign how social services are delivered.

With agencies calling out for cross-VPS data for a wide range of policy and service needs, VCDI proposes to extend the VSIIDR proof-of-concept to a full-service solution, to make sharing easier and data more appropriately accessible and useable for different users and consumers of VPS data.

Actions

A Design and pilot a VPS data sharing service within DPC with appropriate whole of VPS governance, supported by a modern, privacy-preserving platform.

B Commence data acquisition from across the VPS and elsewhere for cross-portfolio analytics use-cases that inform the design and costing of the full data sharing service, and maintain the datasets as enduring assets.

C Commence a business case to seek funding for the full data sharing service from 2022-23.


Goal 2: Reduce waste and deliver savings

This section explores the problem statement: Government is forgoing significant savings due to poor use and management of data with 3 responses and actions.

Problem: Government is forgoing significant savings due to poor use and management of data

All VPS agencies face the challenge of delivering on big commitments amid fiscal constraints. Data and analytics can significantly assist with identification of waste and savings opportunities.

Agencies are making data-driven savings interventions, which can and should be replicated across government. But our ability to do so will be hampered unless the VPS manages data as a valuable asset.

This requires better ‘data governance’— the exercise of decision making and authority for data-related matters. These are the executive-level, strategic decisions to identify priorities and guide investment. Numerous reports and inquiries have found public sector agencies do this poorly. This strategy proposes responses to improve data governance across the VPS.

The strategy also targets waste and duplication around VPS deployment of data-focused tech solutions. It will enable VPS agencies to start faster, deliver higher quality solutions, and save time and money.

Data-driven efficiencies can be found in almost all areas of government. Revenue management, procurement activities, asset management and business process optimisation are all fertile ground for savings.

Such approaches can also be used to improve operational efficiency. By automating rudimentary, repetitive tasks and using data to understand process blockers, VPS agencies can free up highly skilled staff to focus on more valuable work.

VCDI supports and looks to scale effective interventions across the VPS, wherever opportunity presents.

Actions

A Map major data and analytics-driven saving opportunities across the VPS.

B Partner with VPS agencies to develop the models and approaches to realise the savings.

C Make the models and approaches available for use by other VPS agencies.

D Support the development of relevant communities of interest across the VPS (e.g. fraud detection, asset management, demand forecasting).

When implemented in a strategic way, a strong set of decision rights and accountabilities enables an organisation to make efficient, informed choices about its data assets.

There are some barriers to achieving this. The Victorian Auditor-General has labelled the VPS information and data management environment “fragmented and confused”. (Source: Victorian Auditor-General’s Report, 2015, Access to Public Sector Information.)

The current complexity contributes to a culture of delegating decisions to process and technical experts. This separates organisational investment decisions and data governance activities in ways that prevent value being derived from data assets.

This strategy responds by drawing on leading practices for accountability-based data governance. Contemporary thinking emphasises non-invasive and iterative implementation. This includes:

· Designing pilot initiatives to learn more about which approaches are most effective in each context.

· Investing in high-impact activities to educate executives about what can be achieved.

· Using champions and existing networks rather than enforcing rigid pre-defined processes at operational level.

Actions

  • Develop template documents for leading-practice data governance.
  • Pilot a data governance coaching service with a VPS agency that has secured strong executive support.
  • Refine the data governance approach and replicate in other VPS agencies.

Data and analytics challenges typically require a common range of technology architectures and components. Currently, each department (or even project) designs its own bespoke approaches or pays external consultants to do so. This is followed by unnecessarily lengthy and expensive procurement and implementation cycles. The variable quality of these solutions means they often fail to respond adequately to business needs.

This strategy seeks to overcome the waste, delay and suboptimal outcomes of the current approach. Working with central agency ICT and coordination functions, VCDI will help VPS agencies deliver quality solutions faster and cheaper.

VPS agencies will be able to access patterns and advice to introduce responsive technology solutions. VCDI will collaborate with analytics leaders within VPS agencies to ensure their specific context and challenges are met.

Actions

A Enable cross-VPS collaboration to collect and share knowledge about best practices.

B Refine and publish existing reference architectures for data and analytics platforms, to provide common patterns that can be implemented on preferred cloud platforms or on-premise data centres.

C Build a central instance of the design patterns, that VPS agencies can leverage as a ‘fast start’ service.

D Establish technical advisory services to help agencies introduce their own environments faster and for less cost, reusing common configurations.


Goal 3: Build data expertise and transform how the VPS works

This section explores the problem statement: Government risks falling behind other sectors in its ability to deliver services that meet citizen expectations with 3 proposed responses and suggested actions.

Problem: Government risks falling behind other sectors in its ability to deliver services that meet citizen expectations

Building workforce capability is among the most complex challenges the public sector faces. But it is crucial to ensuring the VPS keeps up with rising citizen expectations.

Our efforts so far have proven the most successful workforce initiatives are those led from within VPS agencies themselves. For instance, VCDI supported the Performance and Evaluation Division at the Department of Education and Training to roll out a successful program of professional development, new ways of working, and service excellence. Similar approaches have succeeded in other VPS agencies.

The lesson is that a workforce will only mature where there is organisational appetite for change. Expertise is not enough – it is about changing how people work.

Obtaining that buy-in starts with building awareness and literacy at the executive level about the need for change. VPS agencies then need targeted support to plan and build their data-driven workforce. Finally, the VPS needs to be more creative about how it sources capability and organises to solve problems.

Response 1: Build executive data awareness and literacy

While other sectors are flattening structures and devolving authority, public sector organisations remain hierarchical. Workforce change hinges on building awareness and literacy among executives.

VPS agencies have identified executive data literacy as one of their biggest workforce challenges. Further, a recent report by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner expressly called out the need to increase executive data literacy through targeted programs. (Source: Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner, 2019, Disclosure of myki travel information.)

Executive data literacy is about understanding the ways data and analytics can solve business problems, the role of leaders in data governance and investment decisions, and the capabilities leaders need under them to be data-driven. Best practice involves differing methods for different learning preferences, case-based tuition connected to real problems, and modular learning to allow incremental professional development. (Source: Dalhousie University, 2015, Best Practices for Data Literacy Education Knowledge Synthesis Report.)

Actions

A Co-design the requirements for an executive data literacy program with willing VPS agencies, and source appropriate providers to deliver it.

B Ensure the program can be adapted for the specific needs and problems of other VPS agencies.

C Grow the existing pool of free learning and development resources for leaders and teams to build their own skills.

Response 2: Develop the right workforce for a data-driven VPS

VPS agencies face common challenges in planning and building a data-driven workforce.

Agencies often struggle to know what expertise they already have, partly because there is no common way to describe the VPS data workforce. Once agencies establish a baseline, they need to define their ideal data workforce profile and develop or recruit people to fill identified gaps.

Effort is required to retain skilled staff. Often, data experts report their talents are under-used or wasted on low-level tasks. This is not only an underuse of VPS talent, but it creates a retention risk. Individuals need to feel the work they are doing matches their skills and interests. They also need to feel challenged and see desirable career pathways in the public sector.

Actions, in partnership with one or more VPS agencies

A Refine definitions for role types that will be used to understand the VPS data workforce, map these to skills and tasks, and align levels of expertise to job grades.

B Develop an evidence-based methodology for identifying the current and desired data workforce.

C Design career and development pathways, and attraction and recruitment strategies.

D Refine the approaches and develop a playbook for use by VPS agencies.

Response 3: Embed more creative ways of organising to solve problems

Changing expectations of government and increasingly competitive labour markets for data specialists mean that VPS agencies need new ways to access expertise and deploy resources.

The Victorian Data Partnerships initiative is building a network of public, private and research organisations to collaborate with the VPS on data analytics projects. This model will be extended.

Several successful examples of innovative approaches to forming and orchestrating teams will also be extended. These include paired development, and multi-disciplinary or multi-agency problem-based approaches.

Finally, agencies sometimes need highly specialised, infrequently demanded skill sets. It is impractical and wasteful to recruit for such short-burst needs. The VPS needs fast and
cost-efficient approaches to sourcing these skills, without resorting to costly consulting firms.

Actions

A Extend the Victorian Data Partnerships program to drive collaborations with industry and research organisations.

B Advise VPS agencies interested in flexible team formation.

C Develop guidance for short-term, rapid sourcing of highly specialised skills that contribute to data-driven outcomes.


Implementation timeline, October 2019 to June 2021

This section provides implementation timelines for the 3 goals, each with 3 responses and associated actions.

This is the key for the graphics below:

This key explains the coloured dots used in the 3 charts below. Dark blue is 'target date' and mid-blue is 'ongoing'

Goal 1: Use data for better policies, programs and services

Response 1: Use analytics to accelerate priority policies and projects

Actions Implementation

A Identify and scope major analytics opportunities across the VPS.

Ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

B Deliver and promote high-impact analytics outcomes for the Victorian Government.

Ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

C Develop a whole-of-government algorithm and code-sharing library for VPS analytics teams to borrow from and contribute to.

Target date Q4 2020 and ongoing from Q1 2021 to Q2 2021

Response 2: Maximise insights within VPS agencies through strategic approaches to data

Actions Implementation

A Assist VPS agencies to develop and implement effective data strategies.

Ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

B Deliver immersive support to key teams within VPS agencies to improve capabilities.

Ongoing from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021

C Provide templates and other artefacts for strategy development and new ways of working.

Target date Q1 2020 and ongoing from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021

Response 3: Improve VPS data sharing for cross-portfolio policy design and joined-up service delivery

Actions Implementation

A Design and pilot a VPS data sharing service within DPC with appropriate whole of VPS governance, supported by a modern, privacy-preserving platform.

Ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

B Commence data acquisition from across the VPS and elsewhere for cross-portfolio analytics use-cases that inform the design and costing of the full data sharing service, and maintain the datasets as enduring assets.

Target date Q1 2020 and ongoing from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021

C Commence a business case to seek funding for the full data sharing service from 2022-23.

Target date Q1 2020

Here's the Goal 1 timeline chart as presented in the printed version of the strategy:

Graphical representation of the actions for goal 1, as described above

Goal 2: Reduce waste and deliver savings

Response 1: Target data-driven savings and efficiencies

Actions Implementation

A Map major data and analytics-driven saving opportunities across the VPS.

Target date Q4 2020

B Partner with VPS agencies to develop the models and approaches to realise the savings.

Ongoing from Q1 2020 to Q2 2021

C Make the models and approaches available for use by other VPS agencies.

Target date Q2 2020 and ongoing from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021

D Support the development of relevant communities of interest across the VPS (e.g. fraud detection, asset management, demand forecasting).

Ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

Response 2: Govern our data to maximise value and remove waste

Actions Implementation

A Develop template documents for leading-practice data governance.

Target date Q1 2020

B Pilot a data governance coaching service with a VPS agency that has secured strong executive support.

Target date Q2 2020

C Refine the data governance approach and replicate in other VPS agencies.

Ongoing from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021

Response 3: Reduce the cost and delay of implementing technology solutions

Actions Implementation

A Enable cross-VPS collaboration to collect and share knowledge about best practices.

Target date Q1 2020 and ongoing from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021

B Refine and publish existing reference architectures for data and analytics platforms, to provide common patterns that can be implemented on preferred cloud platforms or on-premise data centres.

Target date Q1 2020

C Build a central instance of the design patterns, that VPS agencies can leverage as a ‘fast start’ service.

Target date Q3 2020

D Establish technical advisory services to help agencies introduce their own environments faster and for less cost, reusing common configurations.

Target date Q1 2020 and ongoing from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021

Here's the Goal 2 timeline chart as presented in the printed version of the strategy:

Graphical representation of the actions for goal 2, as described above

Goal 3: Build data expertise and transform how the VPS works

Response 1: Build executive data awareness and literacy

Actions Implementation

A Co-design the requirements for an executive data literacy program with willing VPS agencies, and source appropriate providers to deliver it.

Target date Q2 2020

B Ensure the program can be adapted for the specific needs and problems of other VPS agencies.

Target date Q3 2020

C Grow the existing pool of free learning and development resources for leaders and teams to build their own skills.

Ongoing from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021

Response 2: Develop the right workforce for a data-driven VPS

Actions Implementation

A Refine definitions for role types that will be used to understand the VPS data workforce, map these to skills and tasks, and align levels of expertise to job grades.

Target date Q2 2020

B Develop an evidence-based methodology for identifying the current and desired data workforce.

Target date Q3 2020

C Design career and development pathways, and attraction and recruitment strategies.

Target date Q4 2020

D Refine the approaches and develop a playbook for use by VPS agencies.

Target date Q1 2021

Response 3: Embed more creative ways of organising to solve problems

Actions Implementation

A Extend the Victorian Data Partnerships program to drive collaborations with industry and research organisations.

Target date Q4 2019 and ongoing from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021

B Advise VPS agencies interested in flexible team formation.

Target date Q4 2020 and ongoing from Q1 2021 to Q2 2021

C Develop guidance for short-term, rapid sourcing of highly specialised skills that contribute to data-driven outcomes.

Target date Q4 2020

Here's the Goal 3 timeline chart as presented in the printed version of the strategy:

Graphical representation of the actions for goal 3, as described above

VCDI case studies

Case studies on public health risks, modern ways of working, Uber Air, partnering with universities and building data literacy.

Early warning of public health risks

Syndromic surveillance involves rapidly acquiring and evaluating data from hospital emergency departments to provide early warning of possible public health risks. By looking for certain ‘sets’ of words or symptoms in the triage notes entered when a patient first presents, syndromic surveillance has the potential to identify unusual patterns of illness.

Examples include:

  • fevers and rashes in patients who’ve recently travelled overseas
  • widespread increases in gastro-intestinal illness potentially linked to contaminated food or water

Rapid identification of these possible red flags enables public health officials to put measures in place to prevent further illness.

The Health Protection Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services engaged VCDI to undertake a proof-of-concept project applying advanced text analytics on a de-identified historical dataset of Victorian emergency department presentations and triage text. Six cases of potentially significant disease were identified during a 4-month collaboration. More than 500,000 records were analysed.

The next step is an operational proof-of-concept project. This will undertake a similar analysis on de-identified datasets from several emergency departments.

Helping Uber Air land in Melbourne

Invest Victoria sought VCDI’s help in attracting Uber to Melbourne to trial a new air taxi service. With global cities jostling, Uber was hungry for insights into local travel patterns to underpin its investment decision which will create jobs and significantly boost Victoria’s economy.

VCDI blended datasets from across government, and applied advanced analytics techniques to produce tailored information and visualisations on how a shared-flight service could benefit Victorians. Guided by VCDI’s data analysis, Uber chose Melbourne as one of three global launch cities.

We predict this investment will create up to 1,000 jobs and inject tens of millions of dollars into Victoria’s economy. The project will also enhance the state’s reputation for innovation and improve transport data and infrastructure planning.

The Uber work shows VCDI’s capacity to perform similar mobility analysis for major Victorian infrastructure projects, and highlights the VCDI team’s vital role in advising on governance frameworks, technology platforms and other project elements.

This infographic shows a map of Melbourne with columns of varying heights to indicate travel volumes, with a cluster of taller columns centred around the central business district and one giant column right on the CBD
Melbourne's peak hour travel volumes

Embedding modern ways of working at DET

The Department of Education and Training’s Performance and Evaluation Division (PED) approached VCDI in 2018 to help overcome technology, process and workflow challenges.

VCDI experts immersed with PED teams to:

  • embed agile ways of working
  • prioritise development areas
  • build a culture of transparency and continuous improvement

VCDI supported adoption of ‘paired development’ practices to increase staff versatility and remove single points of failure. PED also began using cloud-based software to automate data validation and testing.

PED quickly began to see:

  • increased interactions between individuals and teams
  • a reduction in miscommunication
  • improved workflows

Time saved is devoted to higher-value activities, which has improved the quality of insights, and built greater trust with PED’s customers.

Partnering with universities to attract talent

VCDI annually hosts students from Melbourne Business School’s Master of Business Analytics program. The 5-week stints allow Master’s students to apply their skills on real projects that deliver public benefit. Students have:

  • helped identify ways to better tailor government services
  • assisted with syndromic surveillance work

VCDI provides a supportive environment and an insight into the opportunities and challenges of using data in the public sector. The program positions the VPS as an employer of choice for analytics graduates.

The partnership is part of VCDI’s broader collaboration with private, public and research sector organisations to unlock the value of public data. See Victorian Data Partnerships for more information.

VCDI’s online resources help build data literacy

The Data Analytics and Insights Community of Practice enables data professionals, policy makers and service designers to share ideas, exchange skills and develop data-driven ways of working together.

With more than 700 members, it is the largest and one of the most active groups on the Innovation Network. Members can access:

  • regular data-related events and workshops
  • resources to support their use of data
  • discussion threads to leverage the knowledge of VPS colleagues

VCDI has also developed the Data Learning and Development Resource to build foundational understanding of key concepts. These toolkits cover each facet of using data, from defining the problem to communicating findings. Each toolkit highlights key principles to consider and accessible resources to help staff build skills.

Visit the Data Analytics and Insights Community of Practice (Victorian public servants only).


Reviewed 14 February 2020